Guwahati, Dec. 7: Today, the day of the judgment, was significant, being the shradh of Gaurav Jyoti Neog’s mother.
The tragedy, though, was that Neog’s mother passed away on November 27, without getting to hear today’s verdict of her son being pronounced innocent in the July 9 incident.
“She was suffering from cancer from 1992. However, after the July 9 incident and my arrest, she broke down and her condition worsened. She was bedridden for a few days before she passed away on November 27,” Neog told The Telegraph.
Neog, who had filmed the July 9 incident of the molestation of a girl in front of Club Mint on GS Road, was arrested.
A case was registered under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 143 (unlawful assembly), 294 (obscene act), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman), 379 (theft), 366 (kidnapping), 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment), 392 (robbery), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
District judge S.P. Moitra, however, let him off today, pronouncing Neog innocent.
Newslive, the television channel, which had dropped Neog from its rolls after the incident, reinstated him after the judgment, Zarir Hussain, the chief managing editor of the channel, said.
Beyond the charges framed by the police, Neog’s approach to the coverage had at the time become symbolic of increasing moral policing by Assam’s television channels, their targets often being local women in a western environment, leaving a bar, wearing short skirts and the like.
Post July 9 though, while such stories are still being done, the face of the subject is now pixelled out, which wasn’t the case before.
So would he report such an incident the way it was done, if it occurred again?
“Yes I would,” Neog said. “I had become the victim of a conspiracy and even many of my close friends refused to make an effort to understand me at that point. Today I will continue to offer my services as a journalist the way I have.”
And the moral policing that involved television channels targeting women coming out of bars?
“I have nothing against that but if they create a nuisance on the street, that is news,” he said.
The July 9 incident led to a major upheaval within the top management of Newslive.
Atanu Bhuyan, editor-in-chief of the channel, who had vociferously supported Neog right through after the controversy broke, later resigned saying he didn’t want the owners of the channel to be pressured by the chief minister, an oblique reference to the strained relationship between chief minister Tarun Gogoi and his health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, whose wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma owns Newslive.
“We had been victimised,” Riniki, the chairperson and managing director of Newslive, today told The Telegraph.
As for the issue of taking back Atanu Bhuyan, that would be “up to the management and would take some time”, she said.
“Big relief for me,” Atanu Bhuyan tweeted after the judgment.
“I had been under enormous mental stress for the past five months’ since I had taken the decision to air the (GS Road incident) visuals,” Atanu Bhuyan tweeted.